Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Two weeks

Two weeks from today the local schools will be back in session. Wow that was a fast summer!

I'm not quite sure what to make of this year in terms of how quickly its passing. Last summer was honestly a blur to me. Perhaps that's part of it - I had a horrible year and I barely remember any of it. But then this summer seems to have gone by so quickly and I'm not sure if one has anything to do with the other.

I think perhaps time just moves more quickly as you get older. It reminds me of when you grab a huge pile of sand in your hand and its overflowing its so heavy. But if your fingers are not tightly closed together it quickly begins to disappear between the cracks and before you know it poof! Its gone. In the beginning you barely see it leaving but by the end those grains are flying out so quickly you barely have time to react. I think that's the way life is. I feel it quickly leaving now, flying out of my fingers so quickly with no chance to slow it all down. I can see the end, and the pile is long gone. Life is short and no one knows it better than someone my age!

Two weeks will be gone in a blink. And then I'll be bemoaning the passage of yet another holiday season. And so it goes, month to month, year to year, and I think I wish I'd had a mid-life crisis years ago and run away like some people do. Because now its too late. And my life is nearly over. And there's no time left for a do-over. Sigh...

Yikes. Way too morose and heavy for a lovely Wednesday morning! I hear the weather is going to be cooler this week! Now that's something to smile about!!! And a smile is a much better way to start a day. So I will!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Changes

I'm always fascinated by the way that change of any kind throws off the fine balance of life. Whether its illness, trauma, or simply not having your morning newspaper to read, when we are used to something one way it upsets the apple cart when that changes.

There have been many changes in my life this past year, mostly set off by one major one. When my husband and I parted ways it changed so many other things that my entire world was rocked, from my relationships to my children and other family members to the way I turn in for the night and how I take care of my house. Everything really changed. It reminds me of the science that informs us when a butterfly flaps its wings on this side of the world something is effected on the other. Its rather amazing really.

Yesterday I attended a ceremony marking the change at our local hospital which is now affiliated with a much larger one. Its good change, for the most part, and yet there is a great deal of concern among many people about how this will alter their worlds. Not only staff, but patients have voiced questions about how things will be different, and I'm reminded once again of how we are creatures who love things to be the same. We like the predictable and we value "sameness" in so many ways. Its a comfort zone for us, its what we know and what we understand.

What is it they say, "better the devil you know than the devil you don't"?  I think many people feel that way. And perhaps its true, but not necessarily. Sometimes we just need to sit back, take it all in, and adjust to a new normal.

Easier said than done... 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The run

Today is my eighth annual Ellen's Run. And its a celebration for me every year.

Eight years ago I had just completed treatment for breast cancer and when I as asked if I would work at Ellen's Run I gladly said yes. It's a fundraising 5K race that was began twenty-two years ago by the wonderful Julie Ratner in honor of her sister Ellen who died of the disease in her 40s. Of course I would help!

Not only did I help but I organized my first team. There were about 33 of us if I remember, and it wasn't an "official" team because I was such a novice I didn't realize you could register as a team! But we had matching t-shirts and did our part to raise money for the cause. I didn't yet have the energy to do the walk myself but I donned my pink wig and worked the registration tables and saw my team off at the starting line. 

Every year since they I've done the walk, winning the "largest team" award three times, but not doing a team the past two years. I found that it was such a hard job putting the team together, and I had started an event in East Hampton held in October to raise money for the same charities that was bringing in more than my team did in terms of dollars, that I determined to put my energy toward that instead of putting a team together. So this year, like last, I'll be walking with the Southampton Hospital Team instead.

Its a wonderful day, a great event, and although I don't like missing church, I've made it a priority to be there every year for eight years now. And hopefully I'll be able to be there for many, many more.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Rainy days and Mondays

The Carpenters were in my head all day yesterday. It began when the deluge started in the morning and stayed with me the rest of the day, an ear worm that I couldn't dislodge and made me even more depressed than I already was.

What is it about rain that makes us sad? I think its the combination of not wanting to go out in it and the fact that the sun is behind the clouds and its so dark out there. All day that gray sky made me feel lower than I have in while and I wanted to crawl into bed and sleep the day away, which sadly was not an option. 

I think being alone also factors in to the equation these days. Because there was a time when I didn't mind rainy days. With my kids at home it was a day to make forts out of blankets or bake cookies. When I had a partner here it was a day for binge watching some television show we hadn't had time to watch, and making popcorn to enjoy the screen time with. Yes, rainy days are definitely more fun when you have company. Alone they pretty much stink.

If I had my own studio I would use that time to create. But I don't, so instead I read or watch TV ... alone. And I think I suddenly realize the reason for my funk yesterday. It wasn't really the rain at all. It was the fact that the rain was reminding me that I was alone.

And being alone stinks.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Sisters

I was reminded again this week how important our families are to us. My two sisters and I met for dinner at a local restaurant to celebrate one of their birthdays. And it was a refreshing time of peace.

There is safety in family. Even when you're not getting along or in some sort of disagreement, you are always pretty confident in the bond of love that exists. Its a bond that seems to outlive everything else, petty arguments, major family blow-ups, whatever. Oh I know there are families that are broken irreparably and that is sad, but for the most part we seem to be able to overlook each other's faults and come back to a place of peaceful coexistence if nothing else. There's something about our shared histories that makes for a pretty strong bond, even though we don't always remember things In exactly the same way! Family lore is just that sometimes, but it always takes on a bigger role when stories are re-told over the years, right?

My family has been a source of strength to me, but also, sometimes, a source of pain. During the most difficult times we don't always know what the other needs or wants or desires and sometimes we misstep. But always, I find, we have love at the core and that's what its all really about.


Next week another birthday to celebrate. And that's something to look forward to. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Counting days

I know this gets old, and I know I do it every year, but I truly am counting the days until August is over.

And just to be really annoying, Labor Day is late this year and it isn't even over when August is over. Sheesh!

Traffic is incredible this month and the frenetic nature of August is wearing on me. I think we're all so patient for such a long time that by now, we've had it. How much can we take in our quaint little town?

I can't get out of my driveway, I can't get a place to park anywhere close to work, I can't shop at the grocery store after 8am....the list goes on and on. And forget trying to head west after 2:00 in the afternoon! Or anytime for that matter!

Well we're officially half way through the month now and Labor Day is only two weekends away, so I guess we can survive it. These are the waning days of the season and soon enough we'll be wearing sweatshirts to sit at the beach, right? I don't mind that actually - I love the autumn! But for now its about surviving this summer . Yes, we can do it! The question is, can we do it all again next summer?

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Perspectives

It's always amusing to me how different one's perspective is from time to time in life. 

When I was young I so looked forward to sending my kids off to their grandmothers' houses. I enjoyed the time to get things done and they always had fun with their grandmothers. 

Now I'm the grandmother and I'm getting some of those kids today and I'm very excited about it!

I'm already planning the events of the day. This morning I have only the 8-year-old so we'll go off and do some fun things together. Perhaps we'll go out to breakfast, or at the very least grab a bagel and go sit at the beach. Closer to noon the younger crowd will be joining us and at that point we're here to stay so I see lunch together, baking cookies, and playing outside all on the agenda. Its supposed to be a beautiful day so we'll have a good time here at home. They always like to do puzzles and play games so those activities may well be part of the festivities too.

My perspective has changed for sure. Rather than being happy to leave them with someone else, I'm thrilled to have them left with me. Hopefully they feel the same way...

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Fleeting

It seems that, more and more these days, I suddenly look at the calendar (or in this case my blog) and realize that time has gotten away from me and suddenly I'm days late - with a bill payment, or a phone call., or a blog post. What is happening to time these days?

It is a fleeting thing, isn't it? It seems as though whenever you turn around a grandchild has grown a couple inches, or a plant that you just put in the ground is huge, or sadly, someone leaves this earth too soon. Time  is one of the great mysteries of life. It just goes on.

I sometimes feel as though an entire year of my life has been wasted - maybe even many years actually, but I try to remember that good things happened even during difficult times. But I honestly have so few memories of the past year that it really does seem to be lost to me. I suppose you could compare it to childbirth and say its a good things that the memories of that kind of pain diminishes over time, but the other memories, of special times with children and family memories are sad to lose.


I hope I have enough time on earth to make lots of new memories that will stay with me for years to come. That truly is the best way to erase the bad ones. I'm holding on to that idea.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Icons

We lost a couple music icons this past week and it's made me think about the effect that certain people have on the world and on the people of their generation.

I remember whenever Glenn Miller's Orchestra came on the radio or television my parents would stop what they were doing and listen. I understand it now. Because WWII was such a huge part of their lives, and that band was such a major player in the music of that era, that hearing them play must have brought a flood of memories to them. I'm not sure whether they were remembering combat, or blood drives, or wrapping bandages with the Red Cross, but their faces clearly reflected that they had been transported to a pivotal time in their lives simply by hearing the first few strains of a familiar tune.

I feel the same way this week as certain songs and voices have flooded the airwaves in response to the passing of two musical legends. 

And I need you more than want you,
And I want you for all time

And the Wichita Lineman is still on the line

This words haunt me now. They mean more than they did fifty years ago - and they are quite profound. 

Each generation has its spokespersons. For mine it was Peter, Paul & Mary, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, and Glen Campbell, among others. They spoke for us and they moved our hearts and they feed our spirits as only music can. And it makes me sad to say goodbye to any of them. It was a sad week for sure.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Another Saturday

Saturdays used to be my favorite days. Not anymore.

When I was younger they were days home from school. I could sleep late, and have fun with friends. They were the best days of the week!

When I grew up they still special days because my kids were home from school and we could have family time. I loved weekends but Sundays were about church, so Saturdays were the "free" day and having no schedule was always nice.

Saturdays are not so much fun anymore. With an empty house there is no one to enjoy all that free time yet. Oh, I'm sure many people love to be alone and have their "alone" time, but I'm not one of them. I'm a person who like to socialize, to have company, to just be with people. I am lonely when I'm alone. I'm not meant to be a solitary person. And I do my bet to fill my days with stuff - but Saturdays....well....they're empty days now.

So here we are at another Saturday. Its rainy so I can't go to the beach and be with family, its too busy out there to want to be on the roads to go shopping or whatever, and here I sit. Time for creative thinking! I'm going to start my book. I've been talking about writing a book for years. Maybe the time has come to do it.

Then again...I could clean up my office, which is what I really need to do....

Friday, August 11, 2017

Lessons

In attended a very intense workshop recently that dealt with a lot of introspection and self-analysis. I learned skills to help me figure out why I do and say the things I do, and how to correct behaviors that aren't healthy or productive. It's been a tough time since then as I over-think everything I say and try to adapt things I do. I'm not sure I'm young enough to still make myself a better person! LOL

Honestly I'm open to improvement. I was told at a pretty early age that I wasn't perfect so I've never had an over-
inflated opinion of myself. And I've always looked for ways to be a better person, both through spiritual work and simply by listening to others criticisms or suggestions. So its not completely new to me to work on myself. But this work is more intense and pointed than any more casual work I've done and I must say its hard. When you already have low self-esteem, it takes you even lower. Seeing yourself as others see you is very humbling. But humility is a good thing so I say bring it on.

I think this past year has been one of real destruction in terms of my sense of worth and I'm hoping that by improving myself I can begin to feel better about who I am and how I live my life. I'm not sure, but I hope so anyway. Because if we ever stop learning, ever fail to want to better ourselves, I think we're in trouble. We may as well check out of life at that point. And I'm not quite ready for that yet. And so the new chapter begins...

Thursday, August 10, 2017

August

I say it every year, but August is the worst! 

Traffic is horrendous. Crowds are everywhere. Lines to buy groceries and lines to buy stamps. There is no small town here right now - this is crazy town.

I have always said if I could escape one month out of every year here, it wouldn't be February like most people - for me it would be August. I dream of a cabin on a lake in the mountains, with a screened-in porch and a little dock with a small boat tied up at the end. I  picture pine trees and crickets and peace and quiet, and never a need to go into town unless the quiet becomes overwhelming. I think of marshmallows over a fire pit and a warm down comforter to ward off the nighttime chill. THAT'S where I want to be in August!

Well that's the dream but the reality is I'm here. So I plan my trips through the village early and I drive around the outskirts as much as possible. No Montauk Highway if I can avoid it. And no grocery stores between 9am and 6pm either.

Its not easy to liver here in August, but its the sacrifice we make for the other eleven months of the year. And as of today, there are only three weeks left... 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Bills

I'm sitting in my office with a desk full of bills to pay and its depressing me. When do the bills ever stop doing that?

I've always said that to me, a stress-free life would be one without bills that can't be paid. Not worrying every blessed month about how to pay bills would be heaven to me. But I imagine its nearly an impossible thing and not many people have that luxury.

When we were newly married we had to look at the bills every month and figure out who got paid that month. Sometimes we had to pay on a number of large bills, like car repairs or pharmacies, as much as we could every month until they were paid off. When money is tight, something like an unexpected brake job or child's medical costs can put a real strain on a budget. I remember paying a local mechanic $10 a month for a couple years. And when my husband had his heart attack we spent 5 years paying off the bill from the heart surgeon - $100 here, $50 there. It was a strain for sure!

Fortunately I'm not quite there at this point, but still I am sometimes late with a payment and that about kills me. I don't like being late with anything, no less money! But they do all get paid eventually.

Today my goal is to get most of them pain and to come up with a plan on those that aren't. With a tax bill sitting here I know what I need to do first. And then, I'll take it as it comes. Life can be a challenge in so many ways, not the least of which is, for most of us,
paying the bills! 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Home


After a few days of traveling I'm grateful to be home in my peaceful, happy place. 

I'm always amazed at how I relax as soon as I step back in my door after a trip. Its not only an emotional things, its a physical thing. I could feel myself relax and settle in and just knew all the stress was leaving my body as I came through my back door. I had to immediately re-enter my world, knowing the dryer was broken and I had to call the repairman first thing in the morning, and there was a pile of laundry to do, and I had no clean clothes...but still...I began to feel like like everything was OK. I was home.

Travel is fun - an adventure - but the real joy of travel is the return. Because home is truly where our hearts are - in every broken knob and every loose handle, every comfortable pillow and every box of tissues that are just within reach when I need them. This is my space. And I'm grateful for it.

And I'm not leaving it anytime soon. 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Summer travel

Summer travel is not fun.

I guess that's why when you live in the northeast, people tend to stay home in the summer and travel in the winter. Because its hot out there right now!

Everything seems more difficult in the extreme heat, from carrying suitcases to renting a car. And with air travel being as unpleasant as it is now, I can't say I enjoy the procedure. Gone are the days of comfortable seats, served meals, and nice lounges at the airports. Air travel has become more like a cattle call than a special event - its something we have to endure in order to get where we want to be. I much prefer a long car trip to a short plane ride, but it is what it is and sometimes we just need to bite the bullet and get onto a plane.

So here's my rant for this trip: Why do they charge you for checking your bag when they could save time (and money - not to mention aggravation) by charging for carry-on bags in order to urge folks to use the checking system? I'm so tired of all the time wasted waiting for people to stuff those overhead bins to capacity, making everyone in line wait for them not to mention endangering everyone in close range as they wrestle those bags out later often coming close to conking someone on the head. I seem to remember a day when those overhead bins were reserved for coats and briefcases, hats, and sweaters. Gone are those days! Good luck finding a space to stow anything in one of those overhead compartments anymore. I would estimate it takes an extra fifteen minutes loading and unloading because of those suitcases - how what would that savings amount to in scheduling flights?

OK - rant over for now. By Monday I may have more. But right now I'm just praying for decent weather and no waits on the hot tarmac....

Friday, August 4, 2017

Hammock time

We were certainly blessed with some beautiful weather this past weekend, despite the overcast skies on Saturday. Sunday was one of the most spectacular days I can remember in a very long time.

There are a few days every year that you just wish you could bottle up and save for pull out when you really need them, like for a wedding or other very special event, or just because you need to spirit lift. Sunday was one of those days. I went to church, spent time at the pool with my children and grandchildren, and lay in my hammock reading a book until it was beginning to get dark. It was a picture-perfect day and made me think, even if only for a moment, that life would someday be happy and beautiful for me again. I haven't felt that way much this past year so it was a nice change.

I think if I could have that day again, knowing ahead of time how beautiful it would be, I would begin it by watching the sunrise over the water at Montauk Point by the lighthouse. Then breakfast in Montauk, working my way along the stretch to Amagansett and perhaps for a walk along the bay side. Lunch someplace outside would be nice, maybe in Sag Harbor along Main Street, followed by a walk along the street and out to Long Wharf. I think I would work my way west a little more and end in Hampton Bays for dinner at one of their outdoor restaurants on the ocean. I would save my cocktail for home, coming back to East Hampton and walking to The Palm for a cocktail before wandering home for a good night's sleep after a very long day. But what a day it would have been.

My dream life. Happy and beautiful again, maybe....
 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Hydrangeas

Has there ever been a better year for hydrangeas on the East End of Long Island? I don't think so! At least not in my memory!

This has been an amazing month with the hydrangea bushes in full bloom. After a few years of paltry offerings and few blossoms, this year the hydrangea bushes have outdone themselves with full,m fat blooms, completely covering each specimen from the lace caps to the pee gees and everything in between. I've seen more variation in colors, from the deepest purples and pinks to the beautiful blues, and more variety of types, than ever before, and all of them are spectacular.

Hydrangeas have always flourished here on the east end, and I remember my mother taking cutting
s from my grandfather's bush many years ago where it now grows by her back door. I'm sure the folks who live in that house have no idea the bush's pedigree, but when I look at it I see my grandfather in his gardening clothes, lovingly pruning his bushes and beloved begonias that he planted surrounding his house just down the road from me.  Just as my lilacs will always be "my mother's lilacs" because I took shoots from her bushes to plant here, that hydrangea I can see from my driveway by my mother's back door will always be "Grandpa's" bush. Its out memories that keep us content in our later years, isn't it?

Well this truly has been a banner year for our hydrangeas and I don't know why (no doubt some connection to spring rainfall or winter cold, as these things always are) but I'm enjoying it very much. They are one of my favorite flowers and to me, they always will say "home".

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Travel

Today is travel day for me and I'm a bit apprehensive about it. I'm not much of a summer traveler, preferring to stay at home and never leave my house during these crazy busy months of the year. I suppose that's the resort mentality I've grown up with, but nevertheless, I rarely leave East Hampton and I never fly in the summer.

I hope to change that pattern soon though. I hope by net summer I'll be doing a regular August trip of some sort. I've always wanted to see more of the country and it seems as though this is the time of year to do it. I love to drive the Pacific Highway, for instance, and explore the badlands of North Dakota. I wold also enjoy more exploration of New England and the western states. So perhaps I'll find more travel in the summer as these years pass. We'll see.

For now at least, I worry about the travel time to Kennedy airport, the heat and humidity of my destination, and the long delays that seem to be a regular part of air travel in the heart of the summer. We'll see how it goes. I'm not expecting smooth sailing. But I will be relieved to get where I'm going in one piece.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

New day

Today is a new and exciting day for East End residents as the Southampton Hospital officially merges with Stony Brook University Medicine. Its been a long time coming, and its a welcome culmination to a drawn-out process.

This change will be a good thing for everyone who lives out here at the end of the earth. (So it seems when we need help, right?) With the era of telemedicine and the new availability of all sorts of specialists in their system, our little community hospital is going to become a formidable partner in the health system out here on the South Fork, for sure. 

We have always been very fortunate here to have generous benefactors who have kept our hospital healthy and up-to-date in terms of facility and equipment, and we are also blessed to be a place that people want to live, including doctors who have the same issues of affordable housing that all of us do. But many are willing to make the sacrifice to live here and enjoy the beauty all around us. But now we are stepping into a totally new era of availability in terms of what we will have access to here on the East End. And I'm grateful for that.

Congratulations to the administration of Southampton Hospital for their hard work to get us to this place, and to the residents of the East End who will be the real recipients of the gift. Its a very good day.